Group E of the 2022 World Cup is considered one of the contenders for the “Group of Death” tag. Four-time world champions Germany are taking on Spain, Japan and Costa Rica for a chance at the knockout rounds and their fifth world title.
Spain are looking for their second title since their amazing 2010 title win. They could not ask for a tougher group to begin their campaign.
Japan and Costa Rica would have been considered potential group toppers if they were in another group, but in this group, they are the underdogs. Facing two former champions, four-time world champions Germany and one-time world champion Spain will surely put more pressure on them and according to Overlyzer statistics, it’s quite probable that the two smaller teams only have three games to play at the World Cup.
The quality in this group is such that one can bet on a Group E representative in the latter stages of the knockout rounds. But more than that, it holds the highest entertainment value of all groups thus far and fans can expect sparks from the games.
Germany and Japan will kick things off in the group on November 23, followed by Spain and Costa Rica immediately after.
We will now take a look at the strengths and weaknesses of each team in the group and attempt to predict the final outcome.
A fine blend of youth and experience, watched over by a manager who is famous for never smiling and hacking down giants, Germany’s strength is in its ability to control games from start to finish.
Hans-Dieter Flick is a flexible manager who follows a strict style of playing but makes sure that he adapts each player to the way each opponent plays. His tactical genius is the team’s greatest strength and is why Germany are one of the favourites for the title.
But Germany have struggled in the striker department in recent times and could find themselves struggling against their group opponents for this reason.
La Furia Roja fell off after the golden generation of Barcelona and Real Madrid players who made up the core of the team.
Under Luis Enrique, they have slowly built a team that looks solid enough to compete. Like Germany, it is a team mixed with youth and experience. Their increasing confidence is a strength going into the game and the technical quality in the side is really impressive.
They will, however, struggle to make any impact in their games if they do not get rid of their indecisiveness. They have a very young attack, full of pace, trickery and with great finishing. However, decisions in the final third could cost them a game.
Japan are much like Germany and Spain in the way they have integrated the old and the new to form a team that the country can be proud of.
Manager Hajime Moriyasu has even been criticized in the country for picking the same team because of how seamless the transition has been. As a result, Japan is an unpredictable team who are very explosive. This strength is one they can use to catch opponents off guard.
They still struggle with transition from the back to the front. If they are made to keep possession, they could easily be pegged back and beaten by a careful team.
Costa Rica have an interesting come-up story.
After arriving in 2021, Luis Fernando Suarez, the team’s manager, started a nationwide hunt for players. Between then and now, 77 players were used and the final 26, a mix of veterans and youth, have been selected.
This is a strength in that the team is the result of a Survivor-style selection process by Suarez. None of them will want to put a foot forward wrongly.
It is also their weakness, as 11 out of the 26 names mentioned have fewer than 10 caps combined. They also do not score a lot of goals, which could be the difference between them and bettering their 2014 outing, which saw them reach the quarter-finals.
Germany and Japan kick things off while Spain and Costa Rica face off in the second match of the group. Die Mannschaft will then take on Spain while the Blue Samurai face Los Ticos.
The group will round off with Japan facing La Furia Roja and Germany facing Costa Rica. All teams would have known their fate by the time this round of games comes along, but with the unpredictability of the group, we could have a fight until the final whistle to know who makes it through.
No team is guaranteed three wins from three in this group. Costa Rica will struggle to win any game because of their poor form in front of goal and Japan will let in more goals than other teams in the group.
Germany and Spain will win at least one game each against either Japan or Costa Rica.
Germany will finish first on either goal difference or points accrued. However, the distance between them and Spain, who will finish second, will not be much.
Goal difference of fair play rules will be the deciding factor in Japan finishing above Costa Rica in their place.